Flash Fiction—Character Development

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Well, friends, Flash Fiction Pride Month has arrived. I don’t know if I’ll manage a story a day, but here’s a start. Please read, comment, like, share. Thank you.

Character development (July 1)

His book does not draw me into the garden. He does. So many people milling about inside, talking about him and the book. He stands out here, by himself, with a drink in his hand.

Warm air cozies up to the flower heads as he stands there, waiting for me. Or so I imagine. He sees me coming. He thinks it’s safe, but he’s wrong.

“How was yesterday at the beach?” I ask, nonchalantly sipping my bourbon on the rocks.

“We saw a lot of starfish in the tide pools.”

“Did you know that if you cut off one of their arms, a new one grows right back?”

“Is that so?”

“I read it in a book. It was better than yours. The book.”

“Oh.”

“I’ve always wanted you.”

“Really? For what?”

“You won’t let your marriage get in the way, will you?”

He looks stumped. “In the way of what?”

“Our affair.”

“What affair?”

“The one we’re going to have. I want you to be my lover.”

“What was wrong with my book?” He asks desperately.

“Nothing.”

After a few awkward minutes, he says, “Your wife wouldn’t like it if we have an affair.”

“Neither would yours. But they can grow new arms.”

“I’m not sure I follow you.”

“I wish you would follow me. Pay attention. Preferably, to me.”

Some other guests join us outside. I wish him happy birthday in my most manly voice, then drift back inside. I catch him stealing glances throughout the afternoon.

The next evening, most of us from the party attend the official event, his reading at a trendy bookstore across the river. The reading that will launch a thousand books, you might say.

He starts out straight enough, reading a selection from the opening chapter of his new, current novel.

After polite applause, he announces that he’s started a new work just today. He thinks it would be exciting to share some of the novel-in-progress, he says.

“My friend told me that she did not like my latest book at all,” he begins. “Then she propositioned me over vodka martinis. It was a noisy, crowded cocktail party in a fashionable apartment on the Upper Westside, full of loud people who don’t listen much, the party well underway that late in the evening, so I doubt anyone heard besides me.

“This was right after a discussion of starfish regeneration, and I wasn’t sure I had heard her right. Starfish can grow back an arm, if they lose one to a predator. When she told me that, I wondered if somehow my heart could grow back, if I could learn to feel again, since I had lost it to a predator so long ago.

“She stood there, so sexy, lovelier than the Master’s Margarita, perhaps as lovely as a Magritte. So, when she asked me to be her lover, it could have been that I projected those words into her mouth. And I wanted her. So, I boldly said yes.

“That began an affair doomed by science, predators, and broken-off arms. But this story is not about that, or her, or me. It is about you and it is about the storyteller telling.”

His current book is better, I think.

The Acrobat's Exercises, René Magritte, 1928
The Acrobat’s Exercises, René Magritte, 1928


front-cover-tg
You can read this story
and other Flash Fiction by Michael Dickel
in The Palm Reading after the Toad’s Garden

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